Movable Markets: Food Wholesaling in the 20th Century City - Latrobe Chapter Lecture and Annual Meeting - December 10 at 6:30 PM

Matthew Gilmore's picture


Movable Markets: Food Wholesaling in the 20th Century City

Latrobe Chapter Lecture and Annual Meeting
Tuesday, December 10 at 6:30 PM

National Fruit Co., Salvatore Scalco’s Produce Business at 921 Louisiana Avenue NW, Commission Row, Washington, DC, ca. 1921.

Movable Markets: Food Wholesaling in the Twentieth-Century City is the untold story of the evolutionary movement of the wholesale marketplace for fresh food in the United States from the central produce district to planned industrial parks on the urban periphery.  In the early decades of the twentieth century progressive city planners and agricultural economists questioned the centrality, aging infrastructure, and organizational structure of wholesale markets in response to anxieties about the high cost of living, traffic congestion, and disruptions in the food supply. They promoted the unification of wholesale dealers in standardized building complexes with covered platforms on large tracts of land with direct connection to water, rail, and road transportation—located on industrial sites and based on plans largely developed and disseminated by the USDA.  Washington, DC holds a unique position in the history of food systems planning for being the first major city in the United States to remove its marketplace from the central core.  It also has the distinction of having the only market house in the country operated by the USDA, while debates ensued over the future of central markets and the role of the federal government in food marketing and distribution.  Tested in Washington, DC in the 1930s and implemented with rigor after World War II, the USDA model for planned food markets on the urban periphery won the day and rendered many downtown produce districts obsolete as wholesale dealers relocated to new truck-centered facilities located outside of the center city.

HELEN TANGIRES is Administrator of the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., where she has been employed since 1987.  She holds a Ph.D. in American Studies from The George Washington University.  She is a frequent contributor to books and journals on urban foodways.  The lecture today is a based on her most recent book, Movable Markets: Food Wholesaling in the Twentieth Century City (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2019), the latest volume in the Hagley Library Studies in Business, Technology, and Politics series.

The First Congregational United Church of Christ
945 G Street NW, Washington, DC 20001 (second floor)
6:30 pm – reception, 7:00 pm – brief annual meeting & lecture

Reservations are not required. $10.00 for Latrobe Chapter members, student members (full time) free with ID, $15.00 for non-members. Copies of the book will be available for purchase and signing following the lecture. Please bring cash or check for purchase.

'Tis the Season to Renew Your Membership!
All Latrobe Chapter memberships will expire in the new year.  Please visit our website to view our renewal options, including the online membership renewal feature we launched in 2019, here.